On 13 July 2017, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek collaborated with Windhoek High School (WHS) to host the second Nelson Mandela Day Canned Food Drive. The project is part of a greater effort to assist local soup kitchens with food supplies in commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July. Over 650 canned food items were collected from the event and donated to the Okuryangava Feeding Centre, a local soup kitchen in Katutura.
Four high schools in Windhoek pledged their commitment to alleviate hunger in vulnerable communities—a core tenet of Mandela’s legacy. The initiative has seen tremendous success in solidifying partnerships and assisting soup kitchens, thus easing the burden of soup kitchens and aiding them to focus on servicing members of their respective communities.
At the handover ceremony Windhoek High School students, and the UNIC team highlighted the meaning behind the upcoming day that commemorates Nelson Mandela’s exceptional dedication to community service. The Day was established on 18 July 2009 through a United Nations resolution to commemorate the tireless activism of Nelson Mandela. Its foremost principle is to dedicate 67 minutes to community involvement, assisting those in need of support. The UNIC team has made it a priority to see his legacy continued and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) has consistently implemented in the design process of community outreach initiatives. While the canned food drive project strikes at the heart of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it particularly emphasizes the second goal, “Zero Hunger”, which is geared towards the elimination of world hunger and malnutrition, as well as supporting sustainable food systems. Part of Mandela’s legacy was advocating for the eradication of global hunger and with the SDG’s now permeating UN initiatives at international and local levels, canned food drives are very much a part of his legacy and the modern strides toward development that the SDG’s aim to achieve.
Upon their arrival, the UNIC team was greeted by warm smiles and bright faces and a colourful display of canned goods in the school’s parking lot. The principal Mr. Hawie Engels, concluded a short welcoming and was delighted of WHS’ participation in such a profound event in remembrance of a great hero of our time Nelson Mandela.
Mr. Engels’ historic summative note, of Nelson Mandela, took into account what his done for many communities across the globe, and the 67 minutes is symbolic of the years he spent dedicating his life to social justice—one minute per year of dedication”. His introduction ignited the event and his heart-felt opening grabbed the attention of students and onlookers that were in attendance on the front steps of Windhoek High School. The students of WHS were proud to be part of the project, and emphasized their own commitment to community service. The Head Boy reiterated the message that underscored the initiative, stating that, “This is an appropriate cause because we have been so blessed at our school and we still deeply care for children in need in our community”. Amidst his candor were messages of Mandela‘s and the SGD’s; everyone within a community is obligated to help, and the efforts of those more fortunate can serve to eradicate much of the hunger that still exists.
The founder of the Okuruyangava Feeding Center Mr. Manzambi Antonio graciously expressed his gratitude.“For me today is a joyful day. Thank you UNIC Windhoek for reaching out to our Centre. This is such a welcoming gesture ,there are so many children without food in our community,“ he said. Mr. Antonio further emphasized the donations would be of considerable help towards their mission. The Okuryangava Feeding Centre was established in 2003 with the assistance of the Remar Christian Center. The kitchen is open not only to vulnerable children, but to at risk mothers as well. Over 70 community members are assisted on Saturdays.
The UNIC team emphasized the importance of cooperation in promoting justice and equality, stating that, “Eliminating hunger is very much a part of fully realizing human rights, and we can accomplish this through shared advocacy and partnership. We are not only fighting against hunger, we are fighting to preserve the dignity of all human beings.”